California Guards Union Investigated for Hiring Parolee for Office Job
In June 2008, California’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which oversees the state prison system, began investigating the prison guards union (CCPOA) for hiring a parolee as an intern in the union’s legislative affairs office. The OIG was concerned about possible “over-familiarity” between a former prisoner and union members – which include parole officers.
CCPOA President Mike Jimenez vigorously defended the union’s hiring decision. Parolee Raul Gomez, 21, was hired by Minorities in Law Enforcement, a CCPOA affiliate that is funded largely by the guards union. Gomez, paroled to stay within a 50-mile radius of Sacramento, was paid to fly to southern California weekly on business. The OIG was concerned that Gomez was thus violating his parole conditions.
“I’m trying to do the right thing here,” Jimenez said, adding that the prison system talks about rehabilitation, “but then [does] everything possible to keep [parolees] from being successful.” Jimenez described Gomez in glowing terms. “He’s very up-front about his past ... and [that] he’s made mistakes. He has dreams, he has hopes, and I think he has a future.”
Of course, Jimenez didn’t rush to the defense of the thousands of other parolees, not on the CCPOA’s payroll, who also have hopes and dreams and are trying to make a living following their release from California’s dysfunctional prison system.
Former CCPOA President Don Novey strongly disagreed with Jimenez. “[Y]ou just don’t hire felons, especially if you’re a peace officer. ... That’s all there is to it. Our job is not to rehabilitate this guy in our legislative shop.”
Indeed, prison guards have absolutely no duty to rehabilitate or “correct” any prisoner; in fact, “corrections” is not even defined in California statutes or regulations. And if it ever was, and guards were tasked to achieve it, more rehabilitated prisoners would mean fewer prisons and thus fewer jobs for guards and other corrections employees, which would be contrary to CCPOA’s interests.
According to Mike Rains, a CCPOA attorney, the OIG investigation concluded in July 2008. No action was taken against the guards union.
Source: Sacramento Bee
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